Saturday, April 12, 2014

The "Strong Woman" Meme

I don’t know about you, but I cringe every time a woman is labeled “strong.” It happens all the time. It doesn’t matter what the woman has or has not done. It’s a feminist tic.

People who believe in magical thinking imagine that if they keep calling women strong, women will become stronger.

It’s a pathetic tic. It belies a mindless belief that saying can make it so. Those who do it need to be called out. Not by me, of course., but by the eminently qualified Julie Burchill.

After all, Burchill is a strong woman, a committed feminist, a strong supporter of Israel, a no-nonsense take-no-prisoners kind of “broad.”

I say that as a warning. Gird your loins before plunging into her rhetorical flourishes. If you thought that you had mastered the art of political incorrectness, that just means that you haven’t read enough Burchill.

As she explains it, Burchill’s tipping point came when Kelly Osbourne-- the singularly unaccomplished daughter of Ozzie and Sharon Osbourne-- checked herself into “food rehab.”

Burchill shared her feelings:

When I heard that the television pundit and all-round nepot Kelly Osbourne had gone into ‘food rehab’ upon gaining weight, I fair choked on my cronut. Crumbs! Is there any pleasure, weakness or habit that isn’t pathologised these days, even stuffing oneself out of sheer molten gluttony? I read on; incredibly, people were praising ‘strong’ Kelly and ‘brave’ Kelly. I made a memo to myself to mention to the svelte checkout girl at my local Tesco how brave and strong I was next time she raised an eyebrow at the amount of sweets and crisps I was giving a good home to.

What she means to say is that when you overuse a phrase like “strong woman” it ceases to carry any meaning.

Purveyors of the “strong woman” meme are messing with the language. Obviously, they need to be called out.

In a thoroughly politically incorrect fashion, Burchill goes on the offensive against those who are fail to respect the language:

Those who make themselves vomit after eating, those who starve themselves, those who slash at themselves. (Why not give blood and help others while harming yourself? Then at least something good’s coming out of it.) There was a TV commercial for deodorant awhile back which proclaimed boldly ‘EVERY woman is strong!’ What, even gold-diggers wearing heels so high they have to be assisted from bar-stool to bathroom while keeping a weather eye out for Premier League football players? A whole bunch of media broads got cross when L’Wren Scott was described as Mick Jagger’s girlfriend, protesting that she was, rather, a Strong Woman. But why? When I was growing up, the only Strong Women you ever heard of were long-gone circus freaks, or those Eastern Bloc shot-putters who were sniggeringly prevailed upon to take thrillingly named ‘sex tests’ by the harrumphing old Olympic committee.

If every woman is strong, the words don’t mean anything. Burchill says it well:

I like tough broads, so you’d think I’d be down with this linguistic development, but I must say I shudder with distaste on nine times out of ten hearings. Just like men, women are not all brave and strong, any more than we can all run fast or write well. A dry drunk, a slasher, a puker or a gorger is particularly not strong or brave. If Kelly Osbourne is strong and brave for going to food rehab, then what words do we use about, say, women facing death in order to cast their vote in Afghanistan? If all women are ‘strong’ just because they sweat a bit in the gym — as in the deodorant ad — then what do we call the women in my friend Leila Segal’s photography exhibition ‘Voice of Freedom’, which opens in London next week and examines the impact of modern-day slavery on those who leave their African homes to set out for the safety of Israel and are tortured and trafficked on the way?

She continues:

Brave and strong are important words; to overuse them, in the attempt to make women feel better about themselves, is a betrayal. Especially considering that every nation has a vast and mostly silent army of brave and strong women; the victims of the laughably cosily named ‘domestic violence’. 

A woman who stands up to domestic violence, a woman who fights back against a stalker, a woman who fights for her country... such a woman has the right to be praised for her strength.

It’s about time someone denounced the ridiculous notion that by calling women strong we are going to magically make them strong.

Anyone who needs convincing can try this out at home. Imagine a man who loves a woman. Will she be happier to hear that he loves her outfit because she looks strong or because she looks beautiful?

I accept that there are some women who would be grievously offended to be called beautiful and who revel in being called strong. I recommend, and I believe that Burchill might second me, that a man who finds himself face-to-face with such a woman should seek the closest exit.


Dennis said...

Because feminism has always been about upper class women at the expense of lower class women and men who are to be their servants. "What do women want?"
Leftism has always been about the elite and their ability to control everyone and everything because they are far more intelligent than those not in their "class."
The left is constantly abusing, redefining, et al language to fit their agenda. If one tells a lie enough times it becomes "common" place. Feminism has been one of the biggest corrupters of language. Think of the words that we are not supposed to use because they might offend those who engage in offensiveness. "All those different men are all alike."
I am trying to think of a group thats on the Left that doesn't ultimately lead to an elite that makes all decisions and gains power at the expense of others? No matter who they say they are trying to help it is always they who gain from it because they think they deserve it.

Ares Olympus said...

It might be Garrison Keillor's fault for his idyllic town motto:
"Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average." - Garrison Keillor

Anonymous said...

Magical thinking works for men too, who believe we're good looking without even trying.

So maybe for many women strength is experienced as an intrinsic property created by no effort except a willingness to be vulnerable in front of their critics, to be a clear mirror to reflect back resentment and envy without being harmed?

Anonymous said...

@The American Notice 4/12/14 at 6:54 AM:

Because Leftism is a ruse. Nothing more, nothing less. It's based on a lie. It's a bait-and-switch. It doesn't create anything, it merely complains... constantly. It is the locus of all magical thinking. It's the idea that "Yes, we can" becomes "Because I can." It hides behind high intelligence, but possesses no wisdom. It promises hope, leaving nothing but destruction in its wake... everywhere. It cares for the poor until the treasury is left with no money, leaving all spiritually impoverished. It halts all that is good about man in the name of all that is wrong with man (themselves exempted, of course). It hates religion because it is a religion. It says people deserve a fair shake with banks, so now we have a few banks that are too big to fail. It believes in education for all so long as it follows all their ideology. It lauds feminine sensibilities while claiming that the "feminine" is a social construct. For that matter, it claims all traditional memes are socially constructed, and replaces them with newly-constructed social fantasies. It says men are brutes and the NFL ignores concussions while celebrating gold medals in women's boxing. It brings about a new social order that resembles social chaos. It ruthlessly attacks domestic enemies and attempts to make friends with dangerous international provocateurs. It valiantly claims to stand for universal human rights for all, yet proudly stands for the conscious destruction of human life in the name of "choice." It believes in empowering women using social policies that result in more women being left vulnerable. It empowers a massive adult public works program (public education) "for the children," who in turn do not learn. It ingratiates itself to organized labor on behalf of public and civil service so they don't have to serve the public in a civil way. It is elites championing the interests of a "common man" they do not understand, nor live with. It reforms the healthcare system in a way that discourages health and lacks care... for as many uninsured as there were before. It's against Big Tobacco, while it's for legalizing marijuana. It's against the "gamblers" on Wall Street, while supporting casinos (euphemistically called "gaming") to fund education It creates massive subsidies for "affordable" higher education, which fuels increasing tuition and massive post-college debt. It trusts authorities with guns, but not citizens with guns.

Need I go on?


Dennis said...

Here is a question whose answer denotes an interesting truth. Most universities have women's and gender studies program which one can safely state are run by feminists. Why was there no uproar at the way Brandeis treated an African, could have been an Iraqi, Afghani, et al, woman? Genital mutilation, treatment of women by men, religious intolerance and the status of women were all involved here. This is a case that really fits the feminist cause, but not a word in protest.
If this was a single case one might, if one is cynical, understand the feminist reticence to challenge their employer, but this is the standard response when it involves women outside this country, lower class women here or women who challenge men on the Left. Is anyone noticing a pattern here?

Dennis said...

I suspect the women who populate the women's studies programs at Brandeis all think they are "strong women," but their actions or lack thereof seem to denote something else. It is always easy to protest and be "strong" when one knows there is little possibility of harm.
Again, where are the feminists? I suspect they are much like those on the Left that cower to challenge radical Islam. Brandeis anyone. Not very many Christians are going to kill you for disagreeing with them.
Have you ever noticed that there is one solution that always comes from the Left? That solution is the killing of those that might get in their way to utopia. Abortion, Infanticide, eugenics, the killing of the old. It does appear that when one lacks the intellectual skills to present well reasoned argumentation for one's position on the Left it engenders the need for STFU, personal destruction of the individual or ultimately the need to remove those who might challenge the efficacy of their positions from life.